Sunday, May 20, 2018
Politics

PolitiFact: Obama's outsourcing on green energy is half true

The statement

The Obama administration "has been outsourcing" by sending money to "solar and wind energy companies that end up making their products outside the United States."

Mitt Romney, in comments at a town hall meeting

The ruling

Mitt Romney is turning the tables on President Barack Obama, calling him the "outsourcer-in-chief" and highlighting foreign spending from the economic stimulus.

At a town hall meeting in Colorado, Romney said Obama "has been outsourcing a good deal of American jobs himself by putting money into energy companies, solar and wind energy companies that end up making their products outside the United States."

The Romney campaign backed up the claim by citing a report from the Investigative Reporting Workshop that found about 65 percent of the wind turbines on stimulus-funded projects came from foreign manufacturers.

PolitiFact has examined a number of claims about stimulus dollars going overseas, especially in the area of alternative energy. We have found an element of truth to these statements but that generally the numbers are exaggerated. Critics of the stimulus have tallied government loans, grants and tax credits going to a foreign firm but they often ignore that most of the money goes to domestic subsidiaries, and most of the work takes place on U.S. soil. In this case, though, Romney is less specific — and more accurate.

Indeed, many foreign companies benefited from American tax credits and Energy Department grants, and those programs created some jobs in foreign countries. A study by the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent of wind power spending goes overseas. Another federal study put the number at about 40 percent.

But that's because many components for wind turbines are not manufactured in the United States.

Overall, when the federal government supports the use of wind and solar power, it is virtually certain that some if not most of the materials will come from overseas. That is more true for solar than it is for wind.

So while there is some truth to Romney's statement — because stimulus dollars did go to foreign companies — it is inaccurate to call it "outsourcing" because there is not a source domestically.

We rate the claim Half True.

This ruling has been edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

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